JOLO, Sulu—President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday admitted that he considered placing the entire province of Sulu under martial law to go after the Abu Sayyaf bandits who were holding foreign and Filipino hostages.
In a news briefing at Camp Teodulfo Bautista here, the President said he looked into the possibility of declaring martial rule in Sulu three weeks ago as part of the government’s intensified efforts to rescue the remaining hostages.
However, he opted not to pursue the plan as it may just earn public sympathy for the Abu Sayyaf.
“Yes. In Sulu in particular,” Aquino replied when asked if he considered declaring martial law in areas where the Abu Sayyaf are known to operate.
“There’s an assessment that we need to use a substantial number of forces just to implement martial law here which would not guarantee positive results,” he said.
The President said such measure might also lead to “negative results and added sympathy for the enemies.”
He said the plan was discussed as the deadline which the Abu Sayyaf set for the payment of ransom for Canadian Robert Hall was nearing.
“It also came at a time when we nearly got them (Abu Sayyaf),” the President said.
Hall was beheaded by his captors last Monday after the P300-million ransom demand for his release was not met.
The victim’s severed head was dumped moments later near the Jolo Cathedral.
Last April, another Canadian hostage John Ridsdell was beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf also after the ransom was not paid.
The President flew here and presided over a top level meeting of state security forces, among them Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento.
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